Monday, June 1: Cleared my desk before leaving for the airport to fly to Halifax for a six-day tour of the wineries and the launch of the new vintage of Tidal Bay wines. Also researching for my keynote address at the 4th International Conference on Cold Climate Viticulture, Vitinord 2015 in November (using the Nova Scotia industry as a model).
Met at the airport by the effervescent Gillian Mainguy, acting director of the Atlantic Wine Institute, who drove me to the Blomidon Inn in Wolfville, where I’m staying for two nights. Dined at Grand Pré Winery’s Le Caveau restaurant with Gillian and winemaker Jürg Stutz. Over a meal of lobster and clam soup and pasta, Jürg poured the following wines:
- Grand Pré Vintage Brut 2009 (Seyval and L’Acadie, four years on the lees): lemony, minerally, fresh and lively with a white peach and citrus flavour. (90)
- Grand Pré Riesling Vintner’s Reserve 2013: very pale in colour with a lime tint; minerally, green apple and citrus nose; lime and honey flavours with driving acidity and a minty note on the finish. (88+)
- Grand Pré Rosé 2014 (Leon Millot and L’Acadie): deep pink colour; crisp raspberry and watermelon nose; tart cranberry flavour, light and lively on the palate. (87)
- Grand Pré Tidal Bay 2014 (L’Acadie, Ortega, Muscat, Vidal, Seyval Blanc): pale straw colour; aromatic, orange and citrus nose with a spicy tone; off-dry, light on the palate, clean and elegant with a peachy flavour. Good length. (89)
- Grand Pré Baco Noir 2013: dense purple colour; spicy, black cherry nose with a light oak note; sour cherry flavour, fresh and lively on the palate. More delicate and demure than Ontario Baco. (88)
- Grand Pré “Tom” N/V (a wine honouring the memory of a long-time vineyardist who started with Roger Dial back in 1979 – Baco Noir, Cabernet Foch, Marquette): deep ruby-purple colour; sweet tobacco, rose petal and black fruit aromas; light and charming on the palate, redcurrant flavour with a touch of sweetness; lively acidity, good mouth-feel and soft tannins. (88)
- Grand Pré Cabernet Foch 2012: deep purple colour; cedar, spicy cherry and currant nose; tart redcurrant and cranberry flavours with a firm tannic finish. (86+)
- Grand Pré Barrel-Fermented Riesling Icewine 2013: gold colour; high toned, tropical fruit and honey nose with evident oak, rich and full on the palate with mango, burnt sugar and honey flavours carried on lively acidity. Great length. (91)
Grand Pré’s winemaker Jürgen Stutz
Tuesday, June 2: Our first stop today is Lightfoot & Wolfville, a new 35-acre winery with biodynamic vineyards closest to the Minas Basin. Their wines are not yet on the market. Viticulturalist Peter Gamble, who consults to Michael & Jocelyn Lightfoot, and their winemaker daughter Rachel (who is co-winemaker with Josh Horton) were on hand for the tasting. Michael’s family has been farming area for seven generations. The slope of their vineyard, says Peter, “is like a mini Corton” and the inspiration is decidedly Burgundian.
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Sparkling 2013 (100% Chardonnay still on its lees for three years, no dosage): crisp and lemony with a nose of green nuts; fresh and lively on the palate. (91–92)
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Sparkling 2012 (barrel fermented): oak still sitting on top of the fruit. Needs time. (90–91)
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Tidal Bay 2014 (Geisenheim 318, Chardonnay, Chasselas): pale straw colour, crisp crab apple nose; full in the mouth with lively lemony acidity accented with mineral-chalky notes. The driest of the Tidal Bays I tasted; reminded me of Albariño. (89)
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Chardonnay 2013 (25% new oak): straw colour; toasty, apple with a vanilla note; classic Burgundian style, great mouth-feel; expressive peach and lemon flavours with good oak integration. A seamless wine. (91)
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Late Harvest Chasselas 2012: old gold colour; high toned, barley sugar nose; medium sweet with a strong spine of acidity with a dried apricot finish and a touch of bitterness. (89)
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Pinot Noir 2013: ruby colour; Burgundian nose – earth, raspberry with a floral note; a touch green but augurs well for the future when the vines have some age. (88–89)
A most impressive debut.
Next stop, Benjamin Bridge in the Gaspereau Valley (where Peter Gamble also consults). Winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslaurier, his assistant winemaker Bastien Warscotte (from Champagne) and owner Gerry McConnell all participated in the tasting, as did Jerry’s architect daughter, Devon who designed the winery.
Benjamin Bridge’s team: Jean-Benoit Deslauriers, Gerry McConnell, Devon McConnell and Bastien Warscotte
- Benjamin Bridge Brut 2008: straw colour; toasty, brioche, honey; very dry and elegant with a long, green apple, lemony finish with a hint of ginger. (91)
- Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2008: toasty, white flowers, brioche; elegant, billowing on the palate with white peach and lemon flavours, beautifully balanced, very elegant with great length. (92+)
- Benjamin Bridge Rosé 2011 (43% Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay): pale salmon colour; wild strawberry, toasty nose; rich mouth-feel of wild strawberry and lemon, fresh and lively on the palate. Very satisfying. (90)
- Benjamin Bridge Riesling 2013 (blend of three vineyards): straw with a lime tint; minerally, floral, honey, developing hints of petrol on the nose; off-dry, honey and grapefruit flavours with a touch of browning apple on the finish. (87)
- Benjamin Bridge Cabernet Franc Rosé 2014: very pale pink with a bluish tint; true Cab Franc expression on the nose, redcurrant and citrus; crisply dry, redcurrant and cranberry flavours; lively acidic spine. (89)
- Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2014 (15 different varieties): very pale pink; aromatic, orange and lavender nose; off-dry, spicy, orange, peach and redcurrant flavours with lively acidity. Moscato d’Asti style. Light and delicious. (8% alcohol) (90)
- Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay 2014 (75% L’Acadie, 25% Ortega): very pale colour; aromatic, floral, white peach and citrus; dry, peach flavour and a peach pit finish that gives the wine structure. A touch of carbon dioxide gives the wine an added freshness. More flavour and heft than its 9.5% alcohol would suggest. (89)
Next stop, Luckett Vineyards in Wolfville with winemaker Mike Mainguy, Gillian’s husband. Over lunch of antipasto and a bowl of lobster and clam chowder we tasted the following wines:
- Luckett Vineyards Ortega 2012: light straw colour; aromatic, floral, pear nose; off-dry, peach with a little quince-like bitterness on the finish. (87)
- Luckett Vineyards Buried White L’Acadie 2013 (8 Hungarian oak, 2nd and 3rd fill, buried ten feet in the vineyard where the grapes were grown for 13 months!): almost water white; minerally, pear with a light floral note on the nose; dry, sweet nut flavour with crisp acidity (Soave-like). (88)
- Luckett Vineyards Tidal Bay 2014 (50% L’Acadie, 45% Ortega, 5% Traminette): very pale straw colour; aromatic, creamy, perfumed nose; off-dry, fruity, peach and orange flavours. Clean and easy drinking with good length. (88)
- Luckett Vineyards Phone Box White 2013 (Osceola Muscat, Traminette, L’Acadie): very pale with a lime tint; chalky, aromatic, light floral note on the nose; off-dry, tangerine and nectarine flavours with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (86+)
- Luckett Vineyards Phone Box Red 2013 (Lucie Khulmann (40% appassimento), Leon Millot, Castel): dense purple colour; plum and cedar nose with an oak note; fruity, plum, dry with good acidity, firm finish. (87)
- Luckett Vineyards Buried Red 2013 (Lucie Kuhlmann (a portion appassimento), Leon Millot, Foch, buried in the vineyard for 13 months): dense purple-black in colour; blackberry with a herbal note and a light oak on the nose; dry, pencil lead and blackberry flavours with lively acidity. (86+)
- Luckett Vineyards Black Cab N/V (50% Cabernet Foch, 30% Castel, 20% Precoce): dense purple-black colour; earthy, cedary, black cherry; medium-bodied, dry and fruity, blackcurrant and elderberry flavours with a fine spine of acidity. (89)
Luckett’s winemaker Mike Mainguy
Next stop: Planters Ridge in Port Williams, a 150-year-old barn remodelled as a winery. First full vintage 2013. John McLarty, the owner, conducted the tasting.
- Planters Ridge L’Acadie Blanc 2014: pale straw colour; pear and grapefruit nose with a herbaceous note; green pear flavour with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (86+)
- Planters Ridge Quintessence White 2014 (67% Muscat, 16.5% L’Acadie, 16.5% Gris): pale straw; labrusca notes in the aroma, floral, pear and orange flavours with fresh acidity. (86)
- Planters Ridge Riesling 2013: pale straw colour; spicy, grapefruit with a light floral note on the nose; nicely balanced grapefruit and honey flavours with an browning apple note on the finish. (85)
- Planters Ridge Rosé 2014 (Baco Noir, Frontenac Blanc): salmon colour; raspberry nose; light-bodied, tart raspberry flavour with fresh acidity. (86)
- Planters Ridge Quintessence Red 2013 (55% Lucie Kuhlmann, 33% Castel, 12% Marquette): dense purple colour; prune and plum nose; spicy, raisiny, plum flavour with fresh acidity and a prune finish. (86)
- Planters Ridge Barrel Reserve Marquette 2013: deep ruby colour; blackberry with a floral grace note and a touch of oak on the nose; light-bodied, good mouth-feel, dry, fleshy with a rose petal and blackberry flavour. (87)
- Planters Ridge Lucie Kuhlmann Barrel Reserve 2013: dense purple colour; earthy, black cherry nose; pencil lead and black cherry flavour with a coffee bean finish. Good length. (88)
- Planters Ridge Tidal Bay 2013 (52% L’Acadie, 20% Seyval, 14% New York Muscat, 14% Frontenac Gris): very pale colour; labrusca notes on the nose; dry, Asian pear flavour with racy acidity and a crab apple finish. (86)
- Planters Ridge Tidal Bay 2014 (tank sample – 44% L’Acadie, 8% Seyval, 29% Frontenac Gris, 15% Chardonnay, 4% Muscat): pale straw colour; floral, nose with less labrusca character than the 2013. Off-dry pear and tangerine flavours with good length. (87+)
Final winery stop: Avondale Sky, which is housed in an 1837 church that was floated from Walton 32 nautical miles and loaded on a car ferry from New Brunswick in 2011. Forty feet at peak and 36 feet by 50 feet.
Avondale Sky’s church winery
Winemaker Ben Swetnam conducted the tasting.
- Avondale Sky Summerville L’Acadie 2013: pale straw colour; grassy, green plum; crisply dry, grassy, green apple and green plum flavours. (86)
- Avondale Sky Burlington L’Acadie 2013: pale straw colour; reductive note, suggestion of oak on the nose; dry, grassy, green fruit and elderberry flavours. (87)
- Avondale Sky Select Small Lots Canadian Oak L’ Acadie Blanc 2012: light straw colour with a green tint; oaky, white pepper, green plum nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry, evident oak. Reminiscent of Grüner Veltliner. (86+)
- Avondale Sky Select Small Lots Petite Milo 2013: pale straw; orange peel with an aromatic note on the nose; elderberry and gooseberry flavours carried on lively acidity. (The first time I’ve tasted this grape.) (88)
- Avondale Sky Tidal Bay 2014 (L’Acadie, Vidal, Geisenheim 318, Osceola Muscat, Petite Milo): pale straw colour; sweaty, Sauvignon Blanc-like nose; dry, gooseberry, green plum and cut grass flavours. (88+) Ben calls it, irreverently, “Tiddly B.”
- Avondale Sky Tennycape 2013 (Vidal, L’Acadie, New York Muscat, Siegfried): pale straw colour; lifted, aromatic nose; off-dry, lychee and Mirabelle plum flavours; lively acidity. (87)
- Avondale Sky Bliss 2014 (100% Geisenheim 318): pale straw colour; spicy, grapefruit skin nose; off-dry, grapefruit and honey flavours; great tension between fruit and acidity. Long-lasting grapefruit acidity. (89)
- Avondale Sky Pinnacle Hill Icewine 2013 (Vidal): old gold colour; lifted tropical fruit and honeyed nose with fresh acidity; rich, burnt sugar, barley sugar and dried apricot flavours, mouth-freshening acidity. Great energy. (92)
- Avondale Sky Red Head Reserve 2012 (Leon Millot): deep ruby colour; smoky, black cherry with vanilla oak on the nose; dry, savoury, herbal, sour cherry flavour. Good length. (87)
Avondale Sky’s winemaker Ben Swetnam
Back to the hotel for a quick change and then to dinner with Gillian at Troy – a Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant in Wolfville. Ordered a pint of Rojo Mojo Red Ale by the Sealevel Brewery with a platter of mixed mezze followed by very garlicky chicken kebabs.
Then on to Gaspereau Vineyards for the rotating winemakers’ Tuesday night tasting. The host winery gets to choose the theme: tonight, summer sippers. Each participating winery brings a wine to the theme and introduces it as it’s poured around for all. Participants include store managers and retail staff as well as the visiting winemakers. After about eight wines I excused myself and returned to the hotel to write up the day’s notes. And to pack for an early departure tomorrow to drive to Jost vineyards in Malagash.
Wednesday, June 3: The drive to Jost in Malagash takes two hours. Carl Sparkes, the owner, gave us a tour of the winery after a welcome glass of Selkie, Jost’s off-dry, aromatic frizzante wine in the style of Nova 7, named for a mythological seal-woman.
Jonathan Rodwell, Director of Viticulture and Winemaking for Devonian Coast (Jost’s parent company, which includes Gaspereau Vineyards and Mercator), conducted the tasting.
- Jost Vineyards Tidal Bay 2014 (60% L’Acadie, 15% Muscat, 15% Ortega and 10% Cayuga): pale straw colour; aromatic, orange peel nose; clean and bright, off-dry, spicy, honey, grapefruit and nectarine flavours. (88)
- Gaspereau Vineyards Tidal Bay 2014 (39% Vidal, 40% Vidal, 8% Chardonnay, 13% Muscat): light straw colour; minerally, grapefruit, crab apple nose; dry, grapefruit with lively acidity and a honeyed note. (88)
- Mercator Vineyards Tidal Bay 2014 (69% L’Acadie, 16% Seyval, 14% Muscat): pale straw colour; aromatic, Muscat really coming through, orange blossom and honey; off-dry, good mouth-feel with lively acidity. Clean and true. (89)
- Mercator White 2014 (tank sample – V-53, Petite Milo): pale straw colour; crab apple, aromatic nose; green apple with a rustic note on the palate. (86+)
- Mercator Red 2013 (60% Castel, 31% Baco Noir with Chardonnay and Muscat): medium-bodied dense ruby colour; spicy, plum and prune nose; dry, cooked plum flavour with lively acidity. (87)
Then we tasted a range of red hybrids tank samples – Castell, Baco Noir, Lucie Kuhlmann, Marechal Foch, Marquette, and Triomphe d’Alsace, all 2014.
Jost label the LCBO would not accept
Devonian Coast Maple Wine (fermented maple sap): deep amber colour; creamy caramel nose; rich mouth-feel, medium sweet with a true maple syrup flavour but not cloying thanks to a lively acidic spine with a brown sugar finish. (90)
After lunch we drove to see Suzanne Corkum at Ste. Famille in Falmouth.
- Ste. Famille Tidal Bay 2014 (Seyval, Geisenheim 318 and New York Muscat): pale straw colour; minerally, orange blossom and nectarine; off-dry, aromatic, white peach flavour with mouth-watering acidity. (87+)
- Ste. Famille Siegfried 2012 (unique to Ste. Famille): straw colour with a green tint; bready, spicy, orchard fruit nose; off-dry, caramel and citrus flavours with a racy acidic finish. (87)
- Ste. Famille Baco Noir 2014: deep purple colour; plum nose with fresh acidity; dry, savoury, plum flavour. Fruit sustains well on the palate with a raisiny note on the finish. (88)
Drove to Lunenburg to the home of Roger and Gale Dial, where I’m staying the night. They live in a converted Baptist church which, in its previous incarnation, was a mortuary and is situated next to a cemetery. Roger and I have been friends for 35 years since I first visited Nova Scotia to research Vintage Canada. He owned the original Grand Pré, the first winery in the province.
Before dinner we sat down to smoked salmon and a bottle of Gaspereau Vineyards Pinot Noir Brut 2009. Before we demolished that, Roger’s son, Adam, joined us. At dinner (scallops followed by a delicious stew of octopus and calamari and salad) Roger brought out a series of old L’Acadie wines, which he served blind: Gaspereau Vineyards L’Acadie Blanc 2013 and Coffin Ridge L’Acadie Blanc 2011 (from Ontario), Grand Pré L’Acadie Blanc 1999 followed by Grand Pré Cuvée d’Amur Michurinetz 1982, which tasted like an old petit château Bordeaux. For dessert, rhubarb pie, ice cream, and whipped cream with Jost Solstice Ice L’Acadie Blanc 1996 and Royal Tokaji 5 Puttunyos 1996. These two wines, also served blind, tasted spookily similar.
Venerable L’Acadie Blanc
Thursday, June 4: The sun came out today for the first time on my trip. Roger drove me through Mahone Bay to Blomidon for a tasting at Blomidon Estate Winery, conducted by winemaker Simon Rafuse.
- Blomidon Estate Winery Crémant 2012 (Seyval, L’Acadie, Chardonnay): pale straw colour; leesy, apple nose; dry, cidery flavour, crisp acidity, light on the palate. (88)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Cuvee L’Acadie 2011: pale straw colour; creamy, quince nose; lemony, pear flavour. Clean, light-bodied and lingering lemony finish on the palate. (88+)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Late Picked Chardonnay 2011 Sparkling Extra Brut: very pale colour; leesy, apple nose; lemony, green apple; fresh and lively, creamy and soft on the palate. (89)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Woodside Road Vineyard Sparkling Brut 2011 (83% Chardonnay, 13% Pinot Noir, 4% Pinot Gris): apple and citrus nose; crisp elderberry flavour with a lively spine of acidity. Great mouth feel and good lemony finish. (90)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Tidal Bay 2014 (55% Seyval, 40% L’Acadie, 5% New York Muscat): almost water white in colour; minerally, lychee, grapefruit nose; dry, aromatic, pink grapefruit flavour. Clean and fresh. (88+)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Chardonnay Unoaked 2013: very pale colour; high toned, grassy, white peach nose; dry, medium-bodied, dry, peach pit flavour with a white honey note on the finish. (87)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Chardonnay Unoaked 2014: very pale colour; apple blossom, apple nose; elegant, fresh and lively on the palate, apple and citrus flavours. (90)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Chardonnay Oaked 2013 (33% new French oak, 9 months on the lees): vanilla oak, apple with a floral grace note; Chablis-esque flavour, leesy, dry, apple and lemon flavours. (88+)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Marechal Foch 2010 (two years in American oak): deep purple-ruby colour; floral, cedar, lifted, blackberry nose; medium-bodied, tobacco and black cherry flavours. Soft tannins with lively acidic finish that carries the flavours of black cherry and blackcurrant. (89+)
- Blomidon Estate Winery Vin de Paille (Chardonnay) 2012: amber colour; honey, dried peach and raisin nose; oxidative note, full on the palate, medium-sweet, with dried peach and apricot flavour; full-bodied, well balanced with great length. (90)
Blomidon Estate Winery Chardonnay Blanc de blancs 2008: pale straw colour, active mousse; yeasty, leesy, nutty nose; dry, apple and apple core flavours, austere, clean and elegant with a lemony finish. A touch hard on the finish. (89)
Blomidon’s winemaker Simon Rafuse
Lunch at The Port Gastropub on the deck overlooking an estuary of the Bay of Fundy – lobster poutine (delicious!) with a pint of Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter.
Gaspereau Vineyards winemaker Gina Haverstock
Next stop: Gaspereau Vineyards and winemaker Gina Haverstock. After a walk to the top of the vineyard with a bottle of Muscat, the following tasting:
- Gaspereau Vineyards Riesling 2013: very pale colour; minerally, lemon peel nose; light, delicate rhubarb flavour with lime and honey notes. Great finesse here. (89)
- Gaspereau Vineyards Muscat 2013: very pale with an onion-skin colour; intense orange blossom and grapefruit nose; light-bodied, perfumed, dry and very elegant and exotic with a clean clove-like finish. (90)
- Gaspereau Vineyards Tidal Bay 2014 (Seyval, Vidal, Chardonnay and Muscat): pale straw with a faint pink note; fresh, aromatic, peach nose; light on the palate, dry, perfumed, orange green apple and grapefruit flavours. Clean with good length. (89)
- Gaspereau Vineyards Seyval 2014: almost water white in colour; minerally, peach pit nose; soft, off-dry, honey and peach flavours with balancing acidity; lovely mouth-feel. (87+)
- Gaspereau Vineyards Marechal Foch 2013: savoury, smoky black cherry nose; dry, herbal, black cherry and pencil lead flavours with a lively spine of acidity. (88)
- Gaspereau Vineyards Lucie Kuhlmann 2011: dense purple colour; vanilla oak, black cherry nose; spicy, richly extracted, black cherry riding of vanilla oak with soft tannins and juicy, fresh finish. (88)
Gaspereau Vineyards winery
Drove back to Halifax to check into the Marriott Hotel and prepare for this evening’s Tidal Bay launch, at which I’m the guest speaker. Linked up with my old friend and wine writing colleague Sean Wood. We went for a quick bite before the event.
Some 260 people were there, including the provincial Minister of Agriculture. Eleven of the twelve wineries producing Tidal Bay wines were present for tasting (only Lightfoot & Wolfville were missing because their wines are not yet labelled), as well as other wines and some distillers’ products. Tidal Bay is a brilliant concept that allows members of the Wine Association of Nova Scotia to come together with a single blended white wine that adheres to rigorous regulations.
Tidal Bay Appellation: Wine Standards
Concept: Fresh, crisp, dryish, still, white with a bright, “signature Nova Scotia” aromatic component
- All grapes used in the making of the wine must be Nova Scotia grown.
- Permissible Grape Varieties:
The Appellation wine is to be composed of grape varieties as follows:
- PRIMARY VARIETIES (which must, alone or in combination, make up a majority of the final blend):
- SECONDARY VARIETIES (optional, but must not, alone or in combination, make up more than 49% of the final blend):
Kentville White Varieties
Geisenheim 319, 322 or 6495-3
- TERTIARY VARIETIES (For reference, these are highly aromatic varieties nevertheless capable, within prescribed maximums, of displaying uniquely Nova Scotian aromatic traits in a blended wine.) (optional, but must not, alone or in combination, make up more than 15% of the final blend; and must not, as determined by the Independent Tasting Panel, overshadow the terroir-based aromatics or flavour of the wine):
Perle of Csaba
New York Muscat
French-hybrid or vinifera Muscat varieties
In my address I suggested that this appellation will be the calling card for Nova Scotia wines and should be on the wine lists of fish restaurants in London, Paris and New York, as well as Chinese and Japanese restaurants.
Friday, June 5: After breakfast, a tasting with Suzanne Comeau of Annapolis Highland Vineyards in the restaurant of the Marriott Hotel at 10 am.
- Annapolis Highland Vineyards Tidal Bay 2014 (L’Acadie and Sibera): very pale, almost water white; minerally, grapefruit and mango nose; off-dry, banana and white peach flavours with lively acidic finish. Clean and well made. (88+)
- Annapolis Highland Vineyards L’Acadie Blanc Reserve 2014: very pale, almost water white; peach pit nose with a mineral note; green peach flavour; good mouth feel with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (87)
- Annapolis Highland Vineyards Muscat 2012: eye of the partridge colour; orange blossom, lychee nose; off-dry, spicy, exotic flavours of tangerine, nectarine and lychee; good length. (89)
- Annapolis Highland Vineyards Baco Noir Rosé 2014: pink-amber colour; yellow cherry nose with a mineral note; off-dry, cherry flavour; full on the palate for 11% alcohol and a citrus finish. (87)
- Annapolis Highland Vineyards Lucie Kuhlmann 2012: deep ruby colour; leather, white pepper and plum nose; creamy mouth-feel, dry, plum flavour; nicely balanced. (87+)
- Annapolis Highland Vineyards Castel 2012: deep ruby-purple colour; savoury, spicy black fruit nose; dry, sour cherry flavour; medium-bodied, well balanced with nicely integrated oak and an engaging tannic lift on the finish. Reminiscent of a Côte du Rhône-Villages. (89)
Sean Wood joined me for the tasting and then we both went back to his house (where I will spend the night) for lunch. After lunch, Sean gave me a sightseeing tour, stopping at the fortified York Redout and the tiny, picturesque fishing villages along the coast of Ketch Cove and Herring Cove.
Muzzle-loading cannons at the York Redout
Herring Cove, Nova Scotia
In the evening he and I were invited to join Jerry McConnell, his daughter Devon and winemaker Jean-Benoit Delauriers for a Benjamin Bridge Wine Club dinner at Chives Restaurant. Twenty-two of us sat down to an amazing multi-course dinner paired with Benjamin Bridge wines.
Warm spring asparagus salad: Westphalean ham, braised wild leek, quail’s egg, and hand foraged morel mushrooms, with Benjamin Bridge Brut 2008
Tuna tartar, sesame ginger vinaigrette, avocado, daikon slaw, sesame crackers, with Cabernet Franc Rose by Benjamin Bridge 2014
Shellfish and spring vegetable “hodge podge” Atlantic lobster, seared scallop, and smoked oyster veloute, Vero by Benjamin Bridge 2014
Campfire style Arctic char, colconnon croquette, fiddleheads, and tidal bay beurre blanc, with Tidal Bay by Benjamin Bridge 2014
Nova 7 cocktail served in between 4th and 5th course.
Lentil and duck confit strudel, smoked duck breast, seared foie gras, rhubarb, spinach cream, duck jus redux
Benjamin Bridge Sparkling Rose 2011
Lady Earl Grey caramel custard, Icewine poached garden rhubarb and ginger tuiles, with Benjamin Bridge Sweet Chardonnay 2013
Got to bed at midnight.
Saturday, June 6: Up at 7 am to pack and prepare to fly home to Toronto. Sean gave me a lift to the airport. I arrived in Halifax to rain and I left in rain but it was a great trip. I bought a couple of live lobsters for company on the way home. Little do they know their fate.
Pinot T. Wonderdog meets a Nova Scotia lobster
I introduced them to Pinot when I got home. They went very well with a bottle of Closson Chase South Bay Chardonnay 2013.